General Semantics Advanced Thinking
A System-Discipline Concerned with the Sanity of the Race & the Individual
Much Ado about Nothing

by Milton Dawes (2009)

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Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, and others wrote a great deal about nothing. Funny enough, in their thinking, philosophizing and writing about nothing, they have made nothing to be something quite special.  

If nothing is something, then nothing exists. If nothing is something, then nothing is not nothing.   

Any thing that exists, exists some place at sometime. So where in the world could we look for nothing? Where could we start?  

If we looked and looked and eventually found nothing–we would have succeeded. For that’s what we were looking for…YES?

But  here’s a problem: Having found nothing–which was what we were looking for–Do we now stop looking? Looking for something and finding nothing—Do we stop looking? Is there any end to our search for nothing?  

If nothing was never found who knows what nothing is like? If nothing exists, and nothing is something–What is this something like? Could it be that nothing is something like nothing else? And as such–unrecognizable? 

Many, including me, have written about nothing. But, How can anyone write about nothing? Could it be that Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, and all of us are fooling ourselves in believing we are writing or thinking about nothing? 

If we are not writing, thinking, philosophizing about nothing–What are we writing about when we write about nothing? 

The words of that old rock and roll song keep coming back: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy”.

We might remove our confusion about nothing by taking a general semantics approach. Try thinking of nothing. Try doing nothing. And if you were ever in a situation where nothing was happening–Tell someone, or write about this experience.

“Nothing” is often the name we give to an experience when we don’t want to talk about it. But the experience is something. The experience is not nothing. The name, the word  “nothing”  is not the process or the experience the word is about. The word “nothing” is not nothing. 

“Nothing” is a label–a representation—a verbal map–a way of talking about something. As “The map is not the territory”–the word “nothing” –a label we choose to give–is nothing like what the word is about—whatever this might be. 

To paraphrase that rock and roll refrain: Let’s not let the words we use, or the words of others confuse us or drive us crazy.

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